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Results 2001

Jury Trial May 22, 2001
Walter Yoka
Branch, Case #BC196205

Partner Walter Yoka scored a defense verdict for client Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. after a 13-day trial in a wrongful termination case. The plaintiff, a 45-year-old store manager and 22-year employee of Goodyear, was terminated in 1998 after an internal investigation revealed that he had miscoded sales invoices, selling used tires as road hazard warranty and selling used tires to a customer without the requisite waste hauler's permit, all in violation of Goodyear policy. The Goodyear investigator interviewed the plaintiff who admitted to miscoding the invoices. Three weeks after the investigation had begun, plaintiff's at will employment was terminated for violation of work rules. Two weeks after the termination, two Goodyear employees allegedly spoke with friends of plaintiff. When asked what had happened to plaintiff, these employee/defendants allegedly stated that the plaintiff was terminated for miscoding invoices, among other alleged statements.

Plaintiff claimed that there existed an implied contract of employment not to terminate without good cause and that Goodyear breached the contract. Plaintiff admitted to miscoding the invoices but denied any misconduct and claimed that he should have been progressively disciplined rather than discharged. Plaintiff further claimed he was not miscoding for personal gain, but to maintain Goodyear's business. He also claimed that the statements made by the employee/defendants constituted slander.

Defendants argued that there was no implied contract of employment. Plaintiff was an at will employee and could be terminated without cause. Nevertheless, plaintiff's misconduct constituted a good case. Goodyear conducted a good faith and adequate investigation and, based on substantial evidence, had reasonable grounds to believe that plaintiff engaged in misconduct. Finally, defendants argued that the alleged slander statements were not defamatory as they were either true or mere opinions.

The jury returned a defense verdict after deliberating for four hours.

Jury Trial January 2001
David T. McCann
LASC case number YC 036490

David T. McCann represented the defendants, County of Los Angeles and its employee, Gilbert Nelson.

This case arose out of a two-vehicle accident that occurred in March 19, 1999, in Los Angeles. At that time, Mr. Nelson, in the course and scope of his employment with the County of Los Angeles, was operating a county vehicle when he exited a freeway, intending to turn right and head north on a surface street. However, there was construction taking place on the street. In order to avoid blocking the intersection, Mr. Nelson headed straight through the intersection. The signal light for vehicles traveling in the direction Mr. Nelson was traveling when he entered the intersection was green. In order to avoid blocking traffic within the intersection, Mr. Nelson proceeded forward as the light changed. By the time Mr. Nelson reached the southbound number three lane of the surface street, the light for plaintiff's direction of travel had turned green and Mr. Nelson was struck on the right, rear side by plaintiff's vehicle. Plaintiff sustained soft tissue injuries to her neck, shoulders and low back, with a possible herniated disk at the L4-5 level. Settlement demand prior to trial was $150,000, then reduced to $75,000; offer of $15,000. Case was tried in January and the jury returned a defense verdict.

Jury Trial March 14, 2001
Christopher E. Faenza

An alleged trip-and-fall accident occurred wherein plaintiff allegedly tripped over a raised portion of sidewalk and then fell into a parked car, fracturing her wrist. Plaintiff contended that the raised portion of sidewalk was a dangerous condition and that the County of Los Angeles constructive notice of the defect. Plaintiff further contended that the county's inspection and repair policies were improper and had they been done differently, the alleged defect should have been observed. Christopher contended that the county had no notice of the raised portion of the sidewalk. It was established through plaintiff's liability experts that plaintiff did not know of one other county or city that performed any type of routine sidewalk inspection. Further, plaintiff could not show that the county's repair method was any different from any county or city in the neighboring area. Finally, Christopher argued that if the plaintiff tripped, it was due to her own carelessness, and therefore, she was solely responsible for her injury. The trial lasted for six days and had eight witnesses. The jury deliberated for two hours and returned a defense verdict. There had been an offer of $10,000 and a demand at trial for $56,000.

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